Irene van de Mheen

The private space of a drawing

Drawings on, and without, paper.

In my work I explore both the possibilities and the limitations of drawing. I research the relationship between physical space and its translation onto a flat surface – the subtle frontier that separates illusion from reality.

All my work is strongly linked to space, both in its architectural and its abstract sense. I’m especially interested in transitional spaces and industrial buildings where any stay is temporary – spaces where you neither settle nor seek protection, spaces that engender a sense of longing for another place, the place of the other. It’s about being here and wanting to be there. For me, drawings describe their own space.

My working method is intuitive. I use basic elements of drawing – colour, line and space – with an emphasis on the manual and the imperfect. I draw tranquil spaces, mental constructions that provide an aesthetic experience by addressing the senses with their form, structure and colour. It continually fascinates me that two simple lines can create perspective – an evocative spatiality. My work is always about organising physical space, or an empty sheet of paper, as a means toward understanding one’s environment.

My pieces range in size from small, intimate works on paper to monumental, site-specific installations. The latter are very much inspired by the places where they are situated, which I seek to convert into three-dimensional drawings. The work is the space itself, but the intervention consists of surfaces of plain colour, most often using adhesive vinyl, applied to the walls and floor. I like the visitors to be completely surrounded by the work. In these large installations, I aim to preserve the intuitive and playful aspects of the smaller drawings.